This exhibit marks the publication of The African-American Mosaic:
A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the Study of Black History
and Culture. A noteworthy and singular publication, the Mosaic
is the first Library-wide resource guide to the institution's African-
American collections. Covering the nearly 500 years of the black
experience in the Western hemisphere, the Mosaic surveys the full
range size, and variety of the Library's collections, including books,
periodicals, prints, photographs, music, film, and recorded sound.
Moreover, the African-American Mosaic represents the start of a new
kind of access to the Library's African-American collections, and,
the Library trusts, the beginning of reinvigorated research and programming
drawing on these, now systematically identified, collections.
This exhibit is but a sampler of the kinds of materials and themes
covered by the publication and the Library's collections. Many of the
exhibit items are featured in the Mosaic. Other exhibit materials,
not specifically described in the publication, are also included to
illustrate that the Mosaic is an effective guide to the Library's rich
collections, not an exhaustive inventory.
The exhibit covers only four areas --Colonization, Abolition, Migrations,
and the WPA-- of the many covered by the Mosaic. These topics were
selected not only because they illustrate well the depth, breadth,
and richness of the Library's black history collections, but also because
of the significant and interesting interplay among them. For example,
the "back-to-Africa" movement represented by the American Colonization
Society is vigorously opposed by abolitionists, and the movement of
blacks to the North is documented by the writers and artists who participated
in federal projects of the 1930s.
Also, to illustrate that the Mosaic opens avenues for further research,
several items are included which, though important for black history,
cannot have their full stories told until further research is completed.
Finally, this presentation is a sampler of a much larger exhibit now
in progress. In 1998, the Library will mount a major exhibition and
cultural program examining the impact of African- American history
and tradition in the formation of American national identity. The 1998
outreach program will be this institution's first extended reflection
upon its pervasive black holdings, and The African-American Mosaic
will be a major resource guide in that program's development and realization.